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Themes: gothic - history - drugs
Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (1999) - Richard Davenport[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (1999) is the best introduction the genre, linking it with the modern day gothic sensibility.
Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (1999) - Richard Davenport
SIPs: rococo gothic, gothic film, gothic imagination, gothic aesthetics, gothic imagery (more on SIPs)
From Publishers Weekly
Though separated by time, place and vocation, Neapolitan landscape painter Salvator Rosa, English novelist Mary Shelley and American filmmaker David Lynch all belong to the same exclusive club. So argues Davenport-Hines (Auden), often persuasively, in his sweeping examination of modern Western culture's fascination with the dark side. Davenport-Hines holds that a coherent antirationalist tradition can be traced through the work of figures as diverse as Francisco Goya, the Duke of Argyll, Lord Byron, Theodor Adorno and 1980s rock singer Robert Smith of the Cure.
He deftly situates the gothic broadly defined here as a nonconformist sensibility marked by a morbid fascination with death, decay and the uncanny.
In a history that includes the barbarian invasions of Rome and the nature-defying hubris of medieval European architecture. Of course celebrated gothic novelists such as Ann Radcliffe, Matthew "Monk" Lewis and Horace Walpole receive treatment, but more interesting is the author's identification of gothic elements in the work of artists seldom placed in the gloom-and-doom tradition, such as Alexander Pope's carefully planned, and to the 20th-century eye almost kitschy, gardens.
The book's efforts to make spiritual confreres of figures as apparently unrelated as Pope and Ian Curtis, the suicidal frontman of gloomy rock group Joy Division, accounts for much of its appeal. And, indeed, the clear delight Davenport-Hines takes in making bedfellows of poets and pop stars, philosophers and splatterpunks, indicates his own penchant for the bizarre and subversive. Although his definition of the gothic becomes at times too elastic, this richly illustrated survey is no less enjoyable and informative for its author's ambition. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
The enduring interest in Gothic and macabre images and stories has drawn the attention of contemporary scholars and critics. Departing from recent volumes that analyze the Gothic in contemporary culture and arts, British critic Davenport-Hines (Auden, Pantheon, 1996) has produced a comprehensive survey of Gothic themes in art, architecture, literature, and film since the early 17th century.
Arranged in a sometimes disjointed combination of historic and thematic exposition, the book traces the Gothic imagination: its roots, the 18th-century "Gothic revival," the 19th-century classics (such as Frankenstein and Dracula) that epitomize the genre, the American Gothic, and manifestations of the Gothic in popular culture and film. The level of detail is sometimes excessive, and some chapters seem to lose their focus, but overall, this work provides an informed and readable survey of the genre. Unfortunately, the notes are difficult to use, and the in-text citations are not always clear or explicit. For larger public libraries.AJulia Burch, Cambridge, MA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. --via Amazon.com
To be fair, readers utterly new to this material will find "Gothic" a competent survey, but anyone already familiar with this subgenre of the romantic sensibility will be troubled by missed opportunities: In his passing mention of James Hogg's "Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" – surely the mostly deeply disturbing and uncanny of Gothic narratives – Davenport-Hines fails to note that the entire novel is about one of his central themes, spiritual duality. Little details are sometimes gotten wrong: In Henry James's "The Jolly Corner" – contrary to the one-sentence account given here – the narrator really does meet his doppelganger, not an evil stranger but the self he might have become. Some of Davenport-Hines's critical lacunae are perplexing: Why no mention of John Berryman's classic interpretation of M.G. Lewis's "The Monk"? Or of Nabokov's famous lecture on "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"? Surely, an expert on the Gothic could be a little more surprising, too: The chapter on vampires, for instance, might have considered not only Le Fanu's lesbian "Carmilla" and Stoker's capitalist Dracula but also their contemporary Vernon Lee's just as powerful and apposite text "Amour Dure," about a vampiric personality who reaches out from the dead past. Not least, how can a history of the Gothic sensibility conclude without discussing Angela Carter? Or, but for an epigraph, William Burroughs? Why choose Brite and Patrick McGrath and not Tanith Lee or Robert Aickman? --http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/books/reviews/gothic990711.htm [Apr 2006]
see also: gothic - excess - evil
The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics (2001) - Richard Davenport-Hines
The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics (2001) - Richard Davenport-Hines [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
From Publishers Weekly
Davenport-Hines offers a sharply opinionated history of drugs structured around three major premises: Human beings use drugs; for many that choice will be debilitating, sometimes fatal; and government prohibition of drugs, as opposed to regulation, is counterproductive and doomed to vainglorious failure. Davenport-Hines, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and author of a well-received work on W.H. Auden, builds his case with a body of evidence encyclopedic in scope and varied in perspective. He explores the effects of drugs on families and private lives, for example, by sampling diaries of ordinary citizens, the writings of literary figures as diverse as Balzac and Ken Kesey, the theories of notorious cult-leader Timothy Leary, and the reports of a host of journalists. He is equally focused on exposing the high public costs that, he argues, have resulted from governments' treatment of drugs (both in American and elsewhere) as a criminal rather than medical problem a choice that, the author says, is a product of political demagoguery rather than honest conviction. To give credence to his charges, he quotes the inflammatory words of presidents, drug czars, and moralist such as William Bennett. U.S. policymakers exported this punitive approach to Europe and Latin America, which he deems a form of cultural imperialism. Davenport-Hines also finds hypocrisy in government support for pharmaceutical companies, whose advertising and marketing contribute to the cultural acceptance of drugs. He takes care to provide readers with useful information about the effects of both legal and illegal drugs, and to carefully discriminate among the relative dangers of different classes of drugs. The effort adds credibility to his strong writing, and his well-documented positions will be difficult to dismiss. --Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. via Amazon.com
From Library Journal
Prominent British historian/journalist Davenport-Hines here offers a thorough and exhaustive history of addictive drugs and their abuse, spanning the globe and covering all eras for which there exists documented evidence of such activity, primarily from the 18th century forward. The author's approach is that of a historian at work, carefully detailing all known verifiable references to the insidious development of, trade in, and use/abuse of narcotics and other addictive substances. In addition to a thorough discourse on the manufacture and abuse of derivative drugs such as cocaine and heroin, Davenport-Hines also goes into great detail about naturally occurring herbs and weeds that have been abused over the centuries. He pays considerable attention to attempts by governments and world bodies to come to grips with the social, economic, and political ramifications of the drug trade and its side effects, such as organized crime, loss of government revenue, decreased productivity, and strains on healthcare infrastructures. The reluctance or inability of several powerful Western nations to suppress the popular appetite for drugs (only recently considered inappropriate) is cited as perhaps the greatest impediment to reform. Society's attempts over the years to treat and rehabilitate the victims of drug abuse are also documented. This comprehensive study is replete with references to primary and secondary sources. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Lib., First Judicial District, New York via Amazon.com
see also: drugs - addiction
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